Monday, March 30, 2015

Martial Arts Monday: Background

I grew up in the wake of Bruce Lee's death, in a deluge of HK martial arts films, U.S. martial arts films, and Philippine martial arts films.

I took up Karate, like several other folks in my age group, and continued a full year after the rest of them had stopped going to class.

My interest in martial arts (mostly Karate at the time, though I was exposed to a variety of them, through the aforementioned movies, and my late uncle who practiced -- among other things -- Tai Chi) was a bit of youthful exuberance mixed in with the seemingly mythical things going on on the big screen.

It was an eclectic mix -- a steady stream of rapidly decaying Bruce Lee films in the theaters (perhaps I'll explain the lagari system someday in this blog), occasional movie gems on one of the three local TV stations like Billy Jack. Or some of the classic kung fu films like Drunken Master or Snake in the Eagle's Shadow.


And so, when I was introduced to AD&D, I gravitated toward the monk. I never really got to play it, though -- so put off was I by the barriers to progression at the higher levels. But if I had a chance to start off at a higher level, I'd have jumped at the opportunity.

I thought that the barehanded damage was cool -- but not as cool as being able to reduce falling damage (which really didn't happen that often in-game, but hey, I was willing to jump out of windows a lot just to use it). The ability to also have naturally good AC was also pretty neat, but I realized in practice that the DM never really penalized players with removing their plate armor, unless EVERYONE got their gear taken away, which would be great for the monk but pretty bad for everyone else -- especially the mages and their material components!


No big surprise then that when I played Champions and built my first character, I gravitated towards the ones with martial arts. My longest running, most experienced character was a martial artist, naturally.

I really loved the Ninja Hero supplement - all the various martial arts represented by different manuevers and a bit of history, and the ability to make your own martial arts. There was some abuse, but also some genuinely creative martial arts that appeared in Champions games, and even in some Star Hero campaigns (alien martial arts)!

So for Martial Arts Mondays (Metahuman Mondays was a stretch, and Mystara Mondays will probably become multiparters in the same week, and Game Mechanics Mondays require more rules referencing than I thought -- but it's still in there), I'll be taking on my interests in the arts of hand-to-hand combat as they were paralleled in comics, movies, and of course RPGs.

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